What breed with you choose? Part 1
When we think about getting a puppy the first thing to consider is which breed of dog you are going to get?
This is a critical decision; will that breed fit into your lifestyle? Will it live up to the expectations you have in terms of need for exercise, companionship, and fitting in with your existing family life?
There are literally hundreds of breeds of dog, and most pedigree dogs have a Show Line and a Working Line in the same breed, but they are completely different dogs!
A survey of British Dog owners in 2020 found that these were the most popular dog breeds across the UK:
West Highland terrier
What this list doesn’t tell you is which lines these pets came from. That is critical to understanding if that dog is going to fit into your world. Let’s take a look at some of these breeds, these are the ones I see most commonly in a home setting when from a working line.
Labrador Retrievers: The most popular breed of dog in the UK, there are still many working Labradors out there, but we also have the more common companion animals, but what is the difference?
Working Labradors are lean, fast and focused, companion Labradors are chunkier, heavier set and shorter in the leg, they generally are slower moving and less focused on work and more on food! A working Lab is high energy, nose busy and always on the go, not so much the show line, they are pretty lazy loveable creatures.
Unfortunately, like many breeds that become extremely popular there are now a lot of Labradors with genetic defects, like elbow dysplasia. Good breeders will have checked for these genetic disorders to ensure these genes are not passed on but as with everything in life where money is concerned there are some that do not care.
Cockerpoos: There isn’t a working or show line, but it is worth checking the parentage as if from a working Cocker/Poodle this will impact their energy levels.
These dogs are very popular in homes with children and in most cases, they are good, but they can be very boisterous players and they can be prone to separation anxiety. There is a lot of work involved in grooming these dogs that can be an expensive addition to owning a dog. They can also be very vocal, and all the doodle mixes do what we like to call the doodle dance on their back legs, so lots of jumping up.
Now classed as a designer breed a mixture of Cocker Spaniel and Poodle, that can cost you a huge amount of money to buy. You have a dog that is extremely smart and looks like a teddy bear, but they are not a toy. They generally have very high levels of energy and they like to be kept busy, if you don’t entertain, they will find their own. In my experience they can be prone to resource guarding issues.
Resource guarding is a natural behaviour but when it becomes extreme that is when you have an issue, especially if around young children.
As it is a mix of two pedigree dogs you can have a combination of the common health issues in these breeds, equally you can have none.
Pick your breeder carefully though as the temperament of these dogs varies hugely.
Cocker Spaniels: This is definitely a breed that has a working line and a show line, and they couldn’t be more different.
In recent times the Working Cocker Spaniels have become extremely popular with pet homes. Show Spaniels tend to be heavier set than their working cousins who are lean, mean working machines just like the name suggests.
Working Cockers have been bred to work for anything up to 12 hours a day, they are energetic, intelligent and need a purpose, in the right hands they are a perfect pet. If you are able to provide good mental stimulation, are interested in getting involved in one of the many dog sports available then this is a fantastic dog. If you are looking for a lower energy dog, then the show Cocker is more likely to be up your street.
Cockers can suffer from hip dysplasia, and can suffer with their ears, make sure you get your dog from a good breeder. Think before you get a working one, they are loveable wonderful dogs, but they do need a lot of energy and time.
Like the loveable Cockapoo these dogs can need grooming, so that is a cost impact to consider, particularly for the show lines.
In the next edition of Yvonne’s column, she will look at some more breeds, including the Jack Russell Terrier and Border Collie.
If you have any questions for Yvonne about dogs and training, email [email protected]